Worlds come alive from page to stage at #cocreatePOETICA (Open Book Festival)

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Worlds come alive from page to stage at #cocreatePOETICA, a celebration of rap, poetry and the spoken word at Open Book Festival.

 Join The Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre for the ninth Open Book Festival which takes place from 4 to 8 September this year.

 Now in its fourth year, #cocreatePOETICA is a partnership between Poetica and #cocreateSANL, an initiative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in South Africa, to present an electric programme of performances, readings, discussions and workshops exploring themes such as culture, identity and history.

“We look forward to welcoming Dutch poets Simone Atangana Bekono and Radna Fabias,” says Festival Director Mervyn Sloman. “Catch Simone at The Mouth that Bears Many Tongues exploring how we find language through poetry, and Radna at Crafting Home, similarly about finding home through poetry. Both will also be performing at the not-to-be-missed Naked Word Session that closes the festival.

“We are also delighted Ishion Hutchinson is able to join us thanks to Windham Campbell Prizes. A winner of the 2019 Windham Campbell Prizes for Poetry, Ishion’s events will include Weight of History, discussing living with legacies with Karen Jennings and Wilhelm Verwoerd.”

Radna Fabias (Photo: Frank Ruiter) and Simone Atangana Bekono (Photo: Gaby Jongenelen Fotografie)

USA-based Morgan Parker is the author of several poetry collections, including Magical Negro and will soon be launching a new Young Adult novel. Join her at Learning to Love Yourself and as part of the rousing Festival finale with Naked Word Poetry on Sunday night.

Mackenzie Berry is a graduate of the First Wave Hip Hop & Urban Arts Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the USA. Her poetry has been published in Vinyl Poetry & Prose, Up the Staircase QuarterlyHobart, and Broadsided Press, and she has performed poetry and facilitated writing workshops at various locations in the USA.

Some #cocreatePOETICA highlights this year include mixing it up a bit-try out some Poetry Yoga with Linda Kaoma and Kafui Awoonor, interrogating the shape of words and narratives within our bodies, or experience the delight of pairing ice-cream with poetry at AuOral Interlude with TAPI TAPI’s Tapiwa Guzha and Toni Stuart.

As always, #cocreatePOETICA presents the best of South African talent, including groups Lingua Franca, Rioters in Session, the open-mic Grounding Sessions and What the Water Remembers, a multilingual poetry production that explores our relationships to water in the Mother City. The diverse range of local poets includes Allison-Claire Hoskins, Musawenkosi Khanyile, Afeefa Omar, Mbongeni Nomkonwana and Pieter Odendaal.

Ukombela is a not-to-be-missed slaunch of their 2019 poetry anthology, Ukombela. The audience is invited on a spiritual journey through the poetry and musicality of heritage, healing and family.

The topic of absent fathers is explored in Fatherless Fathers, with Khanysio Mabodla, Lwanda Sindaphi and Mthuthuzeli “Blaze” Zimba in conversation with Malika Ndlovu about absence and wounds that don’t heal, while Ndimthanda Ngesingqala explores the same issues through performance. Both these are presented by Lingua Franca.

#cocreatePOETICA also provides a platform to nurture our rising stars. See the next generation of poets with Primrose Mrwebi at Prim Poetry on Fire to hear some of the young poets she has been mentoring, and Toni Stuart at Young Voices in Performance: Presenting Athlone Young Poets, with some of the youngsters she has been working with.

Poetry for Life presents the finalists of this poetry competition targeting high-school learners. Come see who will win The Poetry Slam on Saturday night- featuring a wonderful line up of emerging and established names showing off their talent.

The ninth Open Book Festival will be hosted by The Book Lounge and the Fugard Theatre, and events will also take place at the District Six Homecoming Centre and the A4 Arts Foundation, from 10:00 to 21:00 each day from 4 to 8 September

  • Ticket prices start at R45. There are some free events. Festival Day passes cost R150 and provides access to six events. (Day passes for 8 September cost R100 with access to four events). A full festival pass costs R600 and gives access to 30 events. All events require a ticket for access. 

Open Book Festival is organised in partnership with:

The Fugard Theatre, the District 6 Museum, the A4 Arts Foundation, the Townhouse Hotel, Novus Holdings, the Embassy of Sweden, the Dutch Foundation for Literature and the HCI Foundation and is sponsored by Leopard’s Leap, Open Society Foundation, City of Cape Town, Pan Macmillan, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball, Penguin Random House, African Centre for Cities, UCT Creative Writing Department, University of Stellenbosch English Department, Canada Council of the Arts, Western Cape Government and the Windham Campbell Prizes.

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